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Tagged with: Labor Law, Union Organizing
Earlier this year, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) changed the NLRB’s election process and reinstated expedited or “quickie” elections, which will significantly shorten the timeline for union elections and add new requirements and restrictions for employers. As our consultants have advised, the cumulative effects of this new rule will be to accelerate the petition-to-election timeline, reducing employers’ abilities to ensure that employees have honest, fact-based information about the effects of potential union representation – and are even aware of their eligibility to choose for themselves whether or not to unionize in a secret ballot election conducted by the NLRB.
This new rule takes effect Tuesday, December 26, 2023 — and you don’t want to be caught unprepared. This refresher recaps what you need to know and shows how you can use communication strategies and practices to prepare.
According to the NLRB, this new ruling was instituted to “meaningfully reduce the time it takes to get from petition to election in contested elections and will expedite the resolution of any post-election litigation.”
Here is what this will look like in practice:
As you can see, if you wait to educate leaders and employees until a petition is filed or a demand for recognition is made, you may only have 10 to 20 days total to educate them before an election. This is not enough time to organize your strategy, mobile your leadership, and educate voters – meaning you must act now, before an election is on the horizon.
From a communications perspective, it’s best to be proactive and start labor relations readiness work now because you want to tell your story and educate your employees as soon as possible.
Start by creating a union campaign playbook and educating leaders – from the C-suite to the front-line – and employees of the company’s position on unions. Ideally, you will frame your communications to explain why a union isn’t necessary at your organization by highlighting all the benefits of working at your organization. Think company culture, on-site services, or other perks that set your organization apart. Your playbook should include communication templates, practice scenarios, and more to make sure leaders at all levels are prepared.
You can also follow a “find it and fix it” strategy by connecting with employees to proactively uncover whatever issues are leading to employee dissatisfaction and fix them. If you uncover an issue you cannot fix in the short term, be open and transparent about why you cannot. Remember, honesty and transparency generally helps build goodwill.
Of course, this ruling will also have longer implications, so you’ll want to take some time to plan your long-term communications strategy. This is an optimal time for you to tell your story and connect with your employees. But first, take a moment to make sure your current communications strategies are having their intended impact, and your employees are receiving information in a way that works for them. This is especially important considering younger generations in the workforce are getting their information in new and different ways.
Then, you can move forward and distribute employee engagement surveys, prioritize manager education and training, and establish regular communications to share labor updates. You may also consider assembling a readiness response team who can support local management and respond quickly when early warning signs are reported. No matter how you approach this, you must make sure your employees are at the center of all that you do and are involved in decision-making processes now and moving forward.
Ultimately, for the foreseeable future, employers should focus on short- and long-term measures to protect their organizations by educating employees, training managers, and addressing issues. For those looking for a little extra support or assistance, labor and communications experts like those at IRI Consultants are ready to help ensure employees have the facts and feel confident asking union organizers the details about claims they make in the organizing process.
At IRI, we help organizations navigate workplace challenges, improve employee engagement and productivity, manage labor relations, and implement effective communication strategies to achieve their business and advocacy goals. We believe every business is different, and each requires its own holistic and customized approach to communications. Whether you need an internal communications assessment, guidance in developing your internal communications strategy or social media strategy, digital media intelligence, crisis communications services, media relations, or media training, we have expert communications consultants who can quickly provide a specialized solution. Contact us today to discuss the next steps, or give us a call at (313) 965-0350.